Sunday 15 September 2019

Cost issues condemn Asgard II to remain in its watery grave

Don Lavery Exclusive

The national sail training vessel Asgard II is to remain in its watery grave in the Bay of Biscay off the coast of France after it sank mysteriously last September.

The brigantine will not now be salvaged, and instead efforts are likely to focus on identifying a replacement vessel. Sources close to the vessel's management committee, Coiste An Asgard, have told the Sunday Independent that the committee decided unanimously to make a recommendation to Defence Minister Willie O'Dea not to raise the vessel, mainly on grounds of the cost involved.

However, it is understood that Mr O'Dea has not yet received the report.

The news will come as a blow to the many seafaring interests who had called for the ship to be salvaged and rebuilt. However, although the vessel was insured for €3.8m with salvage costs around €2m, the cost of rebuilding the vessel with the craftsmanship skills and labour involved was thought to be prohibitive.

It's also thought that the long period in which she lay underwater during the winter may have contributed substantially to the cost of rebuilding the Asgard II.

The ship was on a cruise from Falmouth in the UK to La Rochelle in France when it sank 20 miles off the French coast. There were five crew members and 20 trainees on board at the time but they were all safely evacuated.

The decision to abandon the vessel and take to the liferafts was taken by ship's captain Colm Newport, who was praised for his actions. The crew and trainees were taken by the French Coastguard to a nearby island.

An underwater inspection of the ship took place in October which indicated that the ship was upright and largely intact.

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